Right of Conscience

January 8, 2019
Oil Bubbles July 31, 2018

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22, NIV 1984).

He spoke softly but confidently, without bitterness, as he described how he had been removed as chief of psychiatry at his medical university because he had voiced concern over the psychological effects of transgender transformation. It was he who had built the department from four psychiatrists to 17, and the 17 had voted him out. As I left the auditorium, another physician’s husband stopped me, “Do you know my wife may soon be incarcerated?” He then described a new bill moving through their state’s legislature that will make it a crime for physicians not to refer their pregnant patients for abortions when they ask.

American life is not the way it used to be. Healthcare is not the way it used to be. Once upon a time, healthcare professionals of faith could serve with conscience and be applauded. Now, as healthcare professionals across our nation have experienced, our right of conscience and our freedom of speech are being pushed aside by louder voices, voices for non-biblical life style choices. Initially, we were told to accept these choices; and then we were told to approve the lifestyles; and finally, in many areas of our country, we are being pushed to participate. A recent article in a major oncology journal accused Christian doctors of “toxic abandonment” for not referring their patients for physician-assisted suicide, as if opponents of physician-assisted suicide were the morally repugnant ones. We seem to be losing the social struggle, and God is not fixing things.

Martha felt that way once. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Wounded healthcare professionals throughout our country have been crying out, “If you had been here…” in their struggle for right of conscience.

“If you had been here, I could have followed my conscience and not lost my job.”
“If you had been here, that would not have passed our legislature.”
“If you had been here, I would not have to face this alone.”
“If you had been here, I could still practice my profession with joy, caring for others with my conscience formed by the revealed Word of God instead of cultural democracy.”
“If you had been here….”

The beautiful thing about Martha’s statement is the way she continues. “If you had been here…” flows directly into, “But I know….”

Our right of conscience is certainly being challenged by a world that wants its own way. Some are truly crying out, “If you had been here, Lord….”

“But I know”—God called us to touch the suffering in His name. We serve for His purpose, not ours.
“But I know”—The non-biblical life is slavery and not freedom. We must continue to lift our voices for freedom.
“But I know”—Even more than before, our colleagues and our patients need to see Christ in a broken world.
“But I know”—God is not confused by cultural chaos.

Our right of conscience will be challenged, and you or I might be the next to face the struggle. “But I know” when it is my turn to stand, I am not alone. Many of God’s faithful, including CMDA, will stand with me as a voice and as a defender.

“If you had been here…but I know.”

Healthcare in our land will never be as once it was; Christians will continue to stand up for God’s truth and continue to be wounded.

“…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12, NIV 1984).

Dear Father,
I know you are here and I am not afraid.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.